There have been a few posts about how nutritious liver and other organ meats are. So at the Farmer's Market this weekend I picked up a beef heart. The vendor said you can slice it and cook it like a steak (heart is muscle, after all), but I'm a little intimidated, as I've never prepared a heart before. Any tips?
The general rule for cooking heart is to either cook it quickly or slowly. I have cooked lamb and venison heart a few times.
Remove any bits of tubes or cartillage from around the top of the heart leaving just the muscle tissue and the thin layer of white fat. Cut the heart open and cut out the small tendons and membranes around the heart valves. I find all this is easier with a decent pair of scissors than a knife. Then wash out the insides cleaning out any blood. Slice thinly or cut into simarly sized chunks, I prefer bite sized chucks (plus if your eating with anyone else more squeamish than you, it looks a lot less like you are munching on somethings left ventricle).
To cook quickly place it in a hot frying pan with a little fat or oil a couple of minutes or so each side for slices or stir frequently for chunks. If too much liquid comes out of the meat drain this off, it will slow the cooking. Cook to no more than mediun as overcooked heart can quickly become very chewy.
To cook slowly: very briefly brown in a hot frying pan and then either add to a slow cooker or caserole the same way as any other meat. However I prefer it fried.
I tend to use whatever herbs and spices I feel like. Ground black pepper works well on fried heart.
Alternatively if you are feeling very caveman you can squewer whole bloody heart on sharp stick, hold over campfire untill brown then gnaw on meat and tubes... I don't advise this :P
Slice the heart thin 1/4 inch. I like to pan fry in coconut oil/butter and as the oil is heating up, sprinkle a little garlic salt, a little dried thyme, and a little dried basil.
Cook only to med rare to rare. Enjoy.
In my experiments with organ meats, I'm finding that they are much better rare to medium rare. I find liver, kidneys, and heart all juicy and flavoursome when they're rare. Done slow-cooking time (roast, stew, etc), I find them quite dry and nowhere near as tasty.
I agree with the others--either quickly cooked or slow-cooked, kind of like calamari! Here I stuffed lamb hearts with a pretty basic bread stuffing, wrapped them in bacon slices and slow-cooked them in a covered dish with some broth at the bottom.
The only scary bit is the tube-like lobes at the top (shown in this pic, that looks completely alien and would be very tough. Once you remove that then you are basically left with a steak wrapped around on itself with all the fat around the outside. If you slice into it now then you can just open it up, wash out the insides and slice it into relatively flat thin steaks. Once the preparation's done then it's as easy to cook as any muscle meat. Enjoy!
I tried this recipe for beef heart: http://www.cookingindex.com/recipes/18447/anticuchos-grilled-beef-heart.htm
It was tasty, but both times I made it with heart I overcooked it and it was tough as hell. I like it better with skirt or flank steak. I had a hard time finding annatto; if you have a Penzey's Spices around they sell it.
So don't overcook it!
I've found the key to preparing beef hearts and livers is to slice them when they are slightly frozen. When they are slightly frozen, you can cut them into almost paper thin slices against the grain, which makes them less tough. Stir-fry the thin slices in coconut oil or beef tallow with your favorite vegetables, or add cream and wine to make a sauce.
You can also grind up heart and add it to other ground meats, if it is around 20-30% of the total, it adds some interesting texture and flavor. Hearts are usually added to rabbit or venison sausage since they are pretty lean.
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